Surgery is one of the main treatments for many cancers. If you are having surgery, this information will help you understand what to expect before, during and after surgery.

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Information about the surgeon

  • Do you work in a multidisciplinary team (MDT)?
  • Do you specialise in this type of surgery? How were you trained?
  • How many times have you done this surgery?
  • Which hospitals do you operate in?

Treatment choice

  • Why do I need surgery?
  • Are there other treatment choices for me?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of surgery for me?
  • How successful is this type of surgery for this type of cancer?
  • Are there clinical practice guidelines on how to treat this type of cancer?
  • How much does the surgery cost? Are there any out-of-pocket expenses not covered by Medicare or my private health cover?
  • Are there extra costs I should know about, such as costs related to anaesthesia?
  • Can the cost be reduced if I can’t afford it?
  • Can I get a second opinion?
  • How long do I have to make a decision?
  • Will I need other treatment before or after surgery?
  • Are there any clinical trials or research studies I could join?

The surgery

  • How can I prepare myself for surgery and improve my recovery?
  • What type of surgery will I have (e.g. open surgery or keyhole surgery)?
  • What exactly will you do during the operation? Will you remove part of the tumour or all of the cancer?
  • How long will the surgery take?
  • Could your plans for the surgery change? Why?
  • What anaesthetic will I receive? How will it be given?
  • When will I meet the anaesthetist?
  • What are the potential risks and complications of the surgery?
  • Will I need a blood transfusion?
  • Where will I have the surgery?
  • How will we know if the surgery was successful?

Side effects and recovery

  • What are the side effects of the surgery (e.g. will it affect my mobility, diet, ability to work, fertility, sex life)? What are the long-term impacts?
  • Will I have tubes and drains?
  • Will I have a lot of pain? What will be done about this?
  • How long will I be in hospital? How long will it take to recover?
  • Will I need rehabilitation? Will I have it as an inpatient or outpatient?
  • When I go home, will I be given written information about my after-care?
  • What kind of support is available to people who have this type of surgery?
  • Are there any complementary therapies that might help me?

Before leaving hospital

  • Will the stitches need to be taken out or will they dissolve?
  • Will the wound dressing need to be changed? Who will do this?
  • Can I eat my usual diet?
  • What problems should I look out for when I go home?
  • Who should I call if I have a problem?
  • How often will I need check-ups?
  • Can I have a shower or bath?
  • When do I need to see my surgeon for a follow-up?
  • When can I go back to work? How soon can I do my usual activities (e.g. exercise, housework, driving)?
  • What medicines do I need to take?

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